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UAV, UAS, Drones, Quadcopters – some things to know

Drone crashes into the press box during a college football game — A headline from a national news source about a local incident.   There have been a number of headlines recently about privately owned drones.  Largely due to press and media hype the general public know very little about these devices other than to fear them.

Over the past few years there have been major news stories about how drones are being used to remotely kill people, blow up things, used in war attacks and from these news stories the general public has the idea that drones are military and war machines that are extremely dangerous and are an extreme threat – something the be greatly feared.  So when a news story gets national attention about a privately owned drone, the public gets very concerned.

The government and military drones are completely different than from the small privately owned drones.  It is time that the general public is exposed to a basic understanding of these flying devices.

Some terms used are UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle – the flying device itself) UAS (Unmanned Aerial System – the flying device and the associated controllers and other equipment associated with these flying devices) Quadcopter is a term associated with one type of UAV – they have four motors with propellers located on each of the four corners.  While the word Quadcopter is useful in understanding these devices it is not accurate – some of the new UAVs have three motors and propellers, others have six or more.  The word “drone” is being used more and more by the press and media and is also being used by the manufacturers of these small UAVs – the biggest problem with calling these Drones is the public perception of Drones being dangerous war machines.


Radio controlled aircraft – both fixed wing and helicopters have been around for a whole lot of years.   RC (Radio Controlled) hobbyists have RC Clubs, RC Fields, RC Demonstrations and Events.   Probably most people know about and recognize these model planes and helicopters – there are often demonstrations of the RC hobby at most air shows and air appreciation days as well as the public is normally welcome to visit local RC Clubs and flying fields.

RC planes have always been loosely regulated by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) – the FAA is in control of all national airspace including the airspace over your house or property.  Model Aircraft guidelines from the FAA are:

  • Fly from the local model aircraft club or field
  • Take lessons and learn to fly safely and follow the rules and suggestions from the local model aircraft club
  • Contact the local airport or control tower when flying within 5 miles of an airport (fact is many small airports actually have remote parts of their airport designated as an RC flying area – a place where the model airplane hobbyists can come to their local airport and fly their RC planes – these areas are marked on aviation maps – obviously you will not find model airplane flying areas at major airports)
  • Don’t fly near manned aircraft
  • Don’t fly beyond line of sight – the RC aircraft “pilot” is to be able to see their model airplane while in flight
  • Don’t fly any model aircraft weighing more than 55 lbs (there are some special certifications that do allow larger than 55 lb)
  • Don’t fly your model aircraft contrary to your model aircraft clubs guidelines
  • Don’t fly higher than 400 feet above the ground
  • Don’t fly model aircraft for payment or commercial purposes
  • Don’t fly in densely populated areas
  • Don’t fly near parks, schools, hospitals, churches – this guide line actually has to do with noise – most model aircraft have gasoline engines that can be very noisy – somewhat like the sound of a chain saw –
  • Do not fly model aircraft near spectators

The above guidelines have been the “standard” for model airplane hobbyists for many years.  The FAA encourages voluntary compliance and a “good neighbor” policy when it comes to model aircraft.

The RC model hobby for years has been a family fun hobby.  Entire families would go out to the local RC Flying field bring a picnic lunch and be involved with their hobby of getting together and flying model aircraft.  Their are  rules and guidelines and standards of operation which are followed by responsible people pursuing their hobby.  “Incidents” were extremely rare where anything these hobbyists ever did caused national headlines.

Drone shot down by man claiming his neighbor was using a drone to take pictures of his teen aged daughter — Another local media headline that gained national attention.

A man recently shot down a drone that he claimed his neighbor was using to take photos over his property and was invading his property and privacy.  The man grabbed his shotgun and shot down the drone.  A lot of people on the internet agree that it is perfectly alright to shoot down drones flying over or near their private property or drones taking photos or videos of their private property.

This entire issue is touchy – there are some vague laws about privacy and private property.  People are concerned about law enforcement and “government” observing them and photographing them or their private property or their activities.

Aerial photography

Taking pictures, movies and video from the air has long been done, there is nothing new here.  Taking aerial photos and videos from RC planes and helicopters is also not some new concept.  There have been live video feeds and still photos taken from RC aircraft for many years, what has changed is cameras have become smaller and lighter and are able to take better photography with much higher detail.  What has also changed are the UAVs which have become smaller and lighter and probably more important cheaper and easier to fly when compared to traditional RV planes and helicopters.

What has changed with UAVs and Aerial Photography?

Technology has changed the entire concept of UAVs.  The new “quad” platforms are electric, gone is the noisy gas engine.  The new platforms are very easy to learn to fly, in fact many of the smaller ones can be flow inside peoples homes.  These same small UAVs can be flown far perhaps too easily from ones backyard.  Many of these small UAVs come with good quality video or still cameras that are able to take some pretty amazing photos.  Probably the biggest change is cost and availability.  The traditional RV aircraft were fairly expensive, required quite a bit of training and practice to be able to fly them without crashing and if you did crash it took hours and money to rebuild them to where they could be flown again.   Video and camera attachments have been available for RC planes but they were costly and also often would get destroyed in a crash.

The new UAV platforms have gone way down in price and way up in both ease of learning and in their ability to take very good video and photos.  You can purchase a complete UAS (remeber UAS means system – which includes the aircraft and the controller and often one or more cameras) for under $100.  Some are as low as $50 for a decent UAV with camera.

There is nothing included with these UAS packages to indicate that they are subject to both FAA and common sense rules.  People are learning to fly these new devices in a few minutes and they are far less prone to serious damage when crashed.  Spare parts kits are available and cheap.

RC planes typically are flown from RC clubs and RC fields where people have the opportunity to learn not only how to fly them but also have interaction with other club members so they can learn how to be responsible RC pilots and owners.  These new UAVs can be flown from almost anywhere including inside ones home and certainly from a small back yard.  They are run by battery powered motors and do not make a lot of noise.  It is entirely possible to spend less that $100, get a UAV with a camera, learn to fly it and use the built in or included camera, take videos or photos in congested areas, or fly over and photograph local school and college sports both out on a sports field or inside in a gym.

This entire low cost, ease of learning and growing availability will bring about incidents of people doing dumb things and also will be conducive to bringing about complaints from others.  Everything from complaints of invasion of privacy, to spying, to injury or damage to people, pets and property are possible.  The underlying problem is people buying these UAVs and simply flying them without any knowledge of being responsible or learning to fly safely.

What is happening is people are doing some really dumb things with these new UAVs and getting noticed by the press and media which causes headlines that result in the public being afraid or upset with these new devices.

Commercial Useage of UAVs

RC Planes and Helicopters have always had commercial usage restrictions – these were for hobbyist usage only and not for commercial use – commercial use is using a UAV in anyway that the owner gets paid.  There also have been ways to get special usage permits to do commercial applications such as aerial photography – typically the procedure are fairly complex and expensive and so very few hobbyists used the RC hobby for anything of a commercial nature.

The growing number of cheap, easy to fly UAVs that have increasingly better photo and video capacity is causing people to get into commercial applications not knowing that this is illegal and also not knowing that their flying activity may also be illegal.  Aerial photography for example – lets say you are having a birthday party for your kid and you ask you neighbor that have a UAV with a camera to hover over the backyard birthday party and take some photos.  Is this legal? At this point it might be – although it is not necessarily very smart  in that the UAV is being flown in an area where it is close to people and probably in an urban area.   As long as there is no money exchanged there is nothing illegal going on here.   This innocent event can very quickly become commercial and therefore illegal and result in some very high fines resulting from how photos or videos from the event are used.  Allowing the aerial photos from the UAV to be used on say a bakery web site to show that they do birthday cakes for birthday parties is commercial use and therefore makes the UAV flight illegal.

There are people out there looking at photos on the internet and when they see aerial photos that might have been from a UAV being used commercially they are bringing about expensive lawsuits.

UAS – UAV and Agriculture

There are advertisement for UAVs in Agriculture Magazine and there are demonstrations at county and state fairs and agriculture shows.  A number of agriculture dealers and suppliers have added UAVs to their current product lines.

So you have a farm and you purchase a UAV with a camera – what can you use this for.  As it turns out there are a lot of possibilities and the applications list is growing.

  • some cattle are missing – rather than go out and search with an ATV or on horse back you simply fly the UAV up and out around where the cattle are and spot can see where the missing cattle have wandered off too
  • irrigation is actively going on – you fly the UAV over the crops to see how effective the irrigation is and where added irrigation is needed – you get a view of the crops that had not been possible unless you had access to say a helocopter
  • you find you can use the UAV to do a lot of things like check the fence lines, look for soil erosion, locate livestock in a pasture, check the water in the stock tanks, check the roofs and crops after last nights hail storm
  • fly out and see how much snow there was
  • take some photos of your farm buildings for the farm website
  • fly over the crop maize and take some photos to put on the website about the maize
  • you find the UAV to be useful and so you take more photos of your farm and farming operation

What can possibly be wrong with any of this?  You are flying over your own land, taking photos or your crops, your livestock, your farm buildings and farming operations.  As it turns out most of these applications are commercial in nature and your UAV can only be used for hobby use unless you have a commercial usage license.

For example flying out and looking at your crops on your own land is actually OK until you harvest and sell the crop.  Because raising and selling the crop is part of your farm business using the UAV to do any type of crop survey is considered a commercial use of the aircraft you would have to have a commercial license or permit.  The fine for this can be a much as $10,000 per event or incidence – in other words if you make three flights over your field to check your crops you could get fined as much as $30,000.

You know that neat aerial photo you took of your farm for the farms web page?  That too is illegal and is a commercial usage of the UAV even though it was your aircraft taking photos of your farming operation.  The farm website probably can be deemed commercial because you are advertising your business.  The web site most certainly is commercial if you show a photo of your corn maize that you charge $5 a person to go through.  Nothing illegal about the corn maize – what is illegal is you used a UAV in a commercial way to take that photo.

The problem is the rules governing RC aerial vehicles and hobby use are outdated.  The RC commercial rules for special exemptions or commercial licenses are very difficult.  Hopefully there may be some new exemptions and permits available from the FAA soon.  The UAV manufacturers as well as a number of businesses are seeing these devices have a lot of potential as useful tools and have petitioned the FAA to move toward new rules allowing expanded UAV usage.  The possible uses and service is a long list that is growing.  Example include real estate sales – areal views of the property for sale, crop surveys and other agricultural uses, areal photos of weddings, birthday and other parties, use in mining, soil conservation, pond and river management, flooding, storm damage, locating lost livestock, lost people, police work and observation.

The UAV technology is improving, the ease of use and training needed to operate this type of machine is getting a lot better, prices are going down and innovation going up – so what is needed are new more encompassing regulations and also more media and press coverage of how these devices are useful.  Of course there needs also to be more public understanding of what these are.  The thing to know is right now most of the uses for UAVs is illegal because the usage has moved beyond hobby use into clearly and not so clearly commercial use.



Widows XP Support Ends on April 8 – What to Do??

I had been seeing the Microsoft “Nag” screen coming up on my XP PCs for the past week or so – the one that says something like

On April 8, 2014, support and updates for Windows XP will no longer be available

You have seen this also if you have an XP- like a lot of people I just click on the “Close” button and ignored this knowing that just because Support and Updates are going to stop Window XP will continue to run.  It is not like all of a sudden my XP computers will not boot and run.

I also was aware that at least with the main stream computer retailers that all of the new computers come loaded with Windows 8 (or more recently 8.1).  I have encountered Windows 8 only a couple of times and was really totally lost and confused with it – I have not yet had to deal with 8.1 so I have not seen this one yet.

First of all I really was not in the market for a new computer.  I have 3 PC desktops, two are running XP and one is Windows 7 and I have 3 PC laptops all running Windows XP and a couple more XPs that I use ocassionally – several of these I use heavily all day every day.    They all work well and so I really was not wanting to just turn them off and place them on a shelf and I certainly did not want to even think about getting 5 brand new computers.  (plus getting new software like Office 2013, and having to get a new version of Quick Books Pro and new versions of other professional software)  New computers and new software cost a lot in both money and time.  I would have to learn Windows 8.1 as well as the new versions of the software plus upgrading always means that other software programs will no longer work and need to replaced.

With just a few days left before 8 April I decided it was time to take a close look at what XP support ending really means to me and what I need to do about this.   I went out to several of the professional Windows forums and also out to several of the websites and blog sites that I know to give accurate information.  Here is what I have learned:

Windows XP is NOT going to suddenly quit  working or not boot on April 9th.  I already knew that.  The end of support and updates is important however, so important that there are some decisions that must be made and some plans of action that are possible.

  1. The lack of support and upgrades will NOT effect the operation of Windows XP at all at least not initially.
    • All of those updates come in once or twice a week are fixes and patches to XP, many of them have to do with fixing vulnerabilities and “holes” in the XP code, hackers are constantly looking for and finding ways to get into and wreck computers with viruses, malware, spyware and other equally nasty things.  Those updates are fixes and patches blocking the hackers.
    • The stopping of updates means that the likely hood of hackers being able to get into your XP computer will increase as time goes on – that simple fact means that doing something about XP is truly necessary.
  2. The first approach is do nothing – keep using your XP computer as you have been
    • It is important to have good Anti Virus and Internet Security software and keep that software up to date as well as do full system scans on a regular basis.  That is nothing new and is absolutely required with all Microsoft Operating systems.
      • Using good security software becomes even more important in that Microsoft will no longer be issuing updates and patches so you become even more dependent on the skills of the computer security venders.
    • Back up your computer!! BACK UP YOUR COMPUTER!!! This one is really important – if something does go wrong your data, photos, email, all the work you do on your computer can instantly go away and without a backup may be lost for ever – backups are really important for all of your electronic devices, not just your computer(s) also your smart phone and tablets.
      • Backups become even more important with XP machines and really need to be done more often.  I use Acronis True Image – this  backup software is one of the only ones out there that allows you put your backup on a brand new hard drive and everything just works again without have to reload all of your programs. With most backup solutions you have to reinstall all of your software if you have a hard drive failure.
        • Your XP computer is getting older, the chance of your computer failing gets higher as your computer gets older.  The worst failure is the hard drive fails – if you do not have a back up the chances are very high that you can loose everything that is on your computer as in forever.  Oh sure there are places who can (maybe)  get the data off from a failed hard drive – this is expensive and can be lifesaver that is worth every dollar it costs – trust me I have been there.
        • With the loss of support and upgrades from Microsoft your chances of getting hacked, or getting a virus or malware go up and will continue to go up as time goes on.
      • I know I should back up my computers on a regular basis but I don’t – it takes a lot of time, and that is time my computer is not available for the work that I need to do.  I tend to go with “if this computer should quit right now how upset would I be if I lost everything that is on this computer”   If I have been doing a lot of work on a particular computer I do a backup.
      • There are a number of ways to backup a computer, now that very large external hard drives are available at very reasonable prices that is what I use for back ups and what I recommend.   Also if your data is very valuable and critically important to you and or your business back up to someplace not on site – I back up my critical data to Amazon S-3 at least a several times a year – it takes a lot of time to do this.  Amazon S-3 is very, very low cost.  A dollar or two a month for lots of Gigabytes of storage.
      • There are of course very well advertised services that for a monthly fee will back up your computer(s) for you and for many people this is a good option.  I just do not need the monthly expense to do something I can do myself.
    • So the first thing to do about Microsoft no longer supporting XP is nothing other than making certain your antivirus and internet security software are up to date and that you have a back up plan that you are doing.  The thing to know is that as time goes on the chance of hardware failure as well as the chance of getting hacked, getting a destructive virus or malware  also increases.
  3. The next approach is exactly what Microsoft and the Computer manufacturers want you to do – retire your computers that are running Microsoft XP and buy new computers that have Windows 8.1 installed.
    • In fact Microsoft has a special going on to “encourage” you to do this – they will give you $100 off on any Windows 8.1 computer that they have in the Microsoft store.   How nice of them to “ease” the pain.
      • Ok I went over to the Microsoft store and “looked around” and found that with the $100 off most of what was there ended up costing more than the exact same computer purchased else where.
    • The real pain in retiring your XP and getting brand new computers is the software.  A lot of the software that runs on the XP will not run at all on Windows 8.1 – there is no “compatible” mode.   You not only get the “hit” for buying a brand new computer or computers you also end up having to buy new software or paying a lot for updated software.  This whole thing of simply shelving your old computer(s) and getting new ones can cost thousands of dollars.   And you end up throwing away your old computer that is running just fine.
  4. Another approach is to replace you old XP computer with a new computer running Windows 7.  Windows 7 is a great operating system and Microsoft will be supporting Windows 7 until January 2015 and extended support (updates and upgrades) is going out to January 2020.
    • Windows XP main stream support stopped back in April 2009 and that did not effect the updates and patches which are ending on April 8 2014  for XP.
    • There is a lot of the life cycle left for Windows 7 but there is a problem – The end of Sales of Windows Seven was Oct 2013 and the end of sales of computers with Windows 7 Home will end Oct 2014 – Window 7 Professional is still being sold installed on new computers but they are getting harder to find at the normal retail computer sales stores.  The push and their inventory is Windows 8.1
  5. What about keeping your old computer and just upgrading the operating system to Windows 8.1??
    • With most of the older XP computers this is NOT an option at all.  The new operating system will not run on most older computers.  In fact there are quite a few computers that came with Windows 8 when it was first introduced that will not even run Windows 8.1
    • There is a way to check your XP, Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8 computer to see if you can run Windows 8.1 – click here for a Microsoft Page to see if your computer will run Windows 8.1 – Download and run the “Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant”
    • There are at least two versions of the Windows 8 upgrade assistant, one is to check to see if your XP machine can run Windows 8 and the other is to check to see if your Windows 8 machine can run Windows 8.1.
    • The chances are NOT AT ALL good that your older Windows XP machine will run Windows 8 or 8.1.  A lot has changed – Windows 8 has limitations on processor speed and available memory – and a lot of older hardware is not supported.  In my case not a single one of my XP machines will run Windows 8 or 8.1 and several of my XP computers are actually fairly new.
    • The other thing to be very aware of is even if your older XP (and this also applies to Vista) is if your computer will run Windows 8 or 8.1 and you go out and just purchase the software this  will be into a brand new install.  That means everything on your old computer will be gone and you will need to reload all of your programs and then go to your backup to get your data and put it on the new computer.
      • I am fairly good with computers and pretty experienced and I can tell you that adding an operating system and then having to reinstall all of your old software is not easy.  You often have to find software updates that work and you also have to find drivers that run the hardware and even new drivers for things like your printers and scanners and even you camera and other external hardware.
  6. What about going out and buying just Window 7 home or pro and installing it??  Windows 7 has a few years of full support available and is not scheduled to end its extended support until 2020.
    • This actually is a good plan and makes a lot of sense.  Windows 7 works and looks a lot like XP – the learning curve to actually use Windows 7 is not as steep as having to learn something totally different like Windows 8 is.
    • When 7 came out there was a “Windows 7 Upgrade Assistant that could tell you if your XP or Vista computer could run Windows 7 – what hardware and software you would need to update and so on.  This was a tool Microsoft created to sell Windows 7.
    • Problem is Microsoft no longer has the Windows 7 tool easy to find.  Remember what Microsoft and the computer manufacturer really want you to do is ditch you XP and buy a brand new computer and or course buy brand new software like Office 2013 as well.
    • Click this link for the XP to Windows 7 Tool.  Download this and run it on your older XP machines and see if Windows 7 is a possible solution.
    • I found that 4 of my 6 older XP machines will run Window 7 and that Window 7 Pro has a way to run older XP software in compatible mode – this is available only with Windows 7 Pro – not on any other version and not available with Window 8.
    • If this looks like it might work for you there here a Upgrade from XP to Windows 7 link to tell you how to do this.
    • The chances are fairly good that your older XP machine will actually run Windows 7 – you may need to add more memory (ram) so be sure to check to make certain your older computer can take more ram.  Ram is not very expensive – I get ram from Crucial  they have tools and information that can tell you if you can add more ram to your computer, how much and what kind.
    • You will need an external hard drive – Windows 7 is not an upgrade it is a complete new install so you will need to install your old software one program at a time to reuse it.  You will need your data on the external hard drive so you can get your data over to your old computer that is now running Windows 7
    • You may not be able to find Window 7 at regular retail outlets – they want you to buy Window 8.1 so that is what they stock and of course they want you to just buy a brand new computer with Windows 8.1 already installed.
    • There are plenty of online places that have Window 7 for sale.   Cost is about the same as Window’s 8.1 – figure around $100 to $150 for each copy of Windows 7 – remember with Microsoft the operating system is normally good for one computer so if you have three computers you will need three copies or licenses of Windows 7.

That is what I have been able to learn and so here is what I am going to do to solve the XP no longer supported problem.  A couple of my older XPs are not used on line at all.  I will get all of the most recent updates and upgrades from Microsoft as well as the most recent XP drivers and just continue to use these two.  They will be backed up in case the hard drive fails.

Of my 4 XP machine that will run Windows 7  I will be upgrading three of them to Windows 7 Pro so I will be spending $300 to $400 for three copies of the Windows 7 operating system.  I already own both Microsoft Office 2007 and 2010 and so I will be able to reinstall these on the machines I am upgrading to Window 7 Pro – I may have to run Office 2007 in XP compatible mode on the one that has Office 2007 and that is OK – my Office 2010 license is for three computers – I know it will work because one of those licenses is on my Windows 7 computer so two more computers can use that license after I get Windows 7 installed.

What about that fourth XP??  While it will run Windows 7 it will be probably far to slow – I have some software on that on that does not require connecting to the internet to work.  I will get all the recent updates for XP and the updates for all of the software on that one and unplug it from the internet.  The real danger is getting hacked, or getting a virus or malware and if a computer is not on the internet at all this cannot happen.

I will probably replace that computer further down the road with a new computer running Window 8.1

The really good news is I am not going to have to spend thousands of dollars buying new computers and new software, I will be able to upgrade my main work computers to Windows 7 Pro and use most of the software I have to have to get work done.

Unfortunately the loss of support of Window XP is really something we all need to do something about.  Windows XP is old and really does need to be replaced.   In my case I will be doing that within the next few days on every XP computer that is connected to the internet.

Hope this helps you to understand what is really going on and give you some ideas as to what your options are.

Something to know is if you happen to be running Microsoft Vista – you really might want to upgrade that to Windows 7.  Vista was not a good operating system Microsoft is doing updates until 2017 – Vista is already off of mainstream support as of April 2012 and has not been sold since Oct 2011.  Windows 7 looks and works a lot like Vista so the learning curve is minimal.  Of course be certain your Vista computer can run Windows 7 before you go out and buy it (most Vista computer will run Windows 7 just fine and some will run Windows 8 or 8.1).

Now on to solve another computer problem I have.  My Apple MAC Pro is out of date and cannot run the latest versions of MAC OS X.  Of course with Apple viruses, malware and other nasty things are not an issue.   While my MAC cannot run the latest OS X and also cannot run some of the latest software it is fine and so there is nothing really critical I need  to do.

Something else to possibly consider and I know a lot of people have done this and are continuing to do this is just say no to Microsoft and get a MAC and that is actually a very good choice for a lot of people.  MACs run well and are not (at least so far) prone to viruses and malware and other things hackers do.  The biggest problem with Apple MACs is they are expensive.  Something to consider is the Apple Mini Mac for under $1000 – it can use your PCs old monitor, keyboard and mouse.   You can actually make Apple MACs dual boot to run Windows if you have to have Windows software but remember if you run Windows on a MAC you have to do the same things you already must do with Microsoft powered PCs – you have to have Internet Security software and Antivirus Software.  The learning curve to go from a XP PC to an Apple MAC is there, Apples work quit a bit differently than PCs – so you would have a number of new things to learn if you change platforms.  There are some very good video tutorials out there on going from a PC to a MAC and the change over is not too difficult.  I have used PC since Windows 95 first came out and added the MAC Pro to my office in 2008 – I had never touched a MAC before – within about 3 weeks I was getting fairly good with the MAC and within 6 months after getting the MAC Pro I was able to switch back and forth between the PCs and the MAC without have to much think about what I was doing.



WordPress – Installation – Getting it running

Everyone is talking about WordPress and for some very good reasons.

  • Fairly Easy to Learn
  • There are thousands of themes and plugins. There are lots of tools, instruction, help and tutorials available
  • While WordPress is about blogging it is so much more Changes and upgrades are constantly occuring
    • Can be made into just about any type of website you can imagine
    • Standard Billboard SiteBlogging Platform
      • Home page – about page – contact page
    • eCommerce Site
    • Membership Site
    • and a whole lot more

WordPress is a platform which you can use to build your website – you can add posts, pages, media, video and just about anything seen on website to your own WordPress site.  You can change the theme (look and feel) and not effect your content (your posts, pages, media and so on)

Just so we are very clear here – WordPress is installed on your web hosting with your domain name(s)  – with WordPress you will need hosting which is simply a place to store your website,  you will need to have a domain name which you purchase and renew annually.  I am NOT talking about some place where you can put up a free website such as .  With these free sites you DO NOT own or have complete control of your website.  There certainly are people and situations where using on of the free sites is fine but for most people what you really want is your own site with your own domain name where you are in control.   What I am talking about is where there are thousands of developers, programers, and web site specialists working everyday to bring you better products and services.

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Learn the Basics of WordPress-make WordPress Work for you

Today is the start of a series of webinars about WordPress done by Web Design dot com.  This multi day series of webinars covers WordPress in a way to make it useable and understandable.

The series is free and replays will be available for those who sign up.  Here is the link.  Sign up for each session – even if you cannot attend the session you will be able to go back and replay each session.   Learn About WordPress

This series is highly recommended for anyone who uses WordPress, is thinking about changing their website to WordPress or is considering doing a website or adding a web site.

Learn to Use Your Computer – Digital Photos – XP

In this series I will show you how to get your photos from your digital camera stored onto you computer.  Most Digital Cameras come with software on a disc that will copy of move photos from a digital camera unto a computer.  Most of the time these programs are pretty much automatic and usually come with instructions.  A quick tip here.   Many manufacturers have stopped printing out instruction sheets and putting the instruction manuals on the CD that is enclosed with the device – in this case digital cameras.  Look on the disc that is enclosed with the camera to see if there are instructions.  These files are normally in PDF format.  They file name will end with dot pdf and they will have an image that looks like this:

PDF File

Double click on the PDF and it will open the document.  If your computer does not have Adobe reader you will get a message to download it.

In this tutorial I will show you step by step how to get photos from your digital camera unto your computer without using the software that comes with your camera.

Included with your camera there should be a USB cable.  Plug the cable into your camera and then into your computer.  If your camera did not come with a USB cable or you lost or misplaced the cable you will need to get one.  These are very easy to find.  Almost every “Office supply store, computer store, or big box store (when I say Big Box Store what I mean  Wallie World – I rarely use store names.  The cable will look like this for most cameras:

USB calbe

Connect you digital camera to your computer

Plug the USB cable first into the device and then plug it into your computer.  With most digital cameras there will be a switch that lets you take pictures or view pictures.  Turn this switch so you can view pictures and turn the camera on.   Windows should recognize that a new device has been connected.  The shows up in the lower right where the clock is.  Different cameras and different computers do different things.  Your computer may open several windows when you connect a camera.  On of the most common with Widows XP is this one:

Camera Connected

Windows XP Camera connected

Cancel all windows that come up when you connect your camera to your  computer.  In this tutorial we will not be using any of these.

Go to My computer it may be on you desktop – (the first screen that opens after you computer boots)  The My Computer Icon look like this

My Computer Icon

My Computer Icon

If you do not have this on your Desktop then Click on Start and Click on my Computer – it looks like this:

My Computer from Start

Start – My Computer

Click on the My Computer Button – My Computer can open up in a number of ways – what is important is the menu on the left (in the red box) – Click on My Documents and it will look like this you will probably not have as many files as I do.

My Computer My Documents

My Computer My Documents

Find and Double Click on My Pictures

MyComputer My Docs My Pictures

My Computer – My Documents – My Pictures

After you click on My Pictures you will see the folders that contain pictures on your computer.  If you computer is new you may have just “Sample Pictures” here, you could have other files here.  Step One is set the files so you can “see” the pictures – they should look like mine below – Click on the Views Icon – with XP if you “hoover” over an icon it will show you what it is.  Click on this and a drop down menu will appear and choose Thumbnails.  Your folder s will look like mine and will show little pictures of what is in the folder.

When you put photos on you computer from your camera – it is a really good idea to make a new folder for each new event.  Two things you DO NOT want to do when it comes to moving photos from you camera to your computer is 1. do not put you photos or your photos in side of folder on your Desktop.  This cause your desktop be become a big mess and can cause you to loose your photos or not back them up.  Always put new things into your My Documents – in side of a category in this case My Pictures – and make a new folder to put things in.  You may want to create sub folders like in My Pictures – have a “Vacations” folder, a “Family” folder, a “Work” folder and so on.  Open those sub folders and create a new folder for what ever your series of photos are.

The MOST important thing to learn to do it to store things on your computer in a way that you can find them again.  Organizing files and folders is also very helpful when it comes to sharing photos and really important when it comes to making backups of your computer files.

Step Two – Click on the Make new folder file

Make a New folder

Make a New Folder

You will see a new folder has been created – it will say “New Folder” – rename the folder – you can do this by either clicking on where it says “New Folder” or on the left where it says Rename Folder.

Take a close look at the box at the top that says Address (numbered 1) – this box is very important to understand both for saving anything and also on your web browser will be a similar looking box.  This tells you where your are at.

In this case – it says  C:\Documents and Settings\Ronald Headley\My Documents\My Pictures  – What this is saying is you are on drive C:  – on most PC computers Drive C will be you main Hard drive.  You are in you Documents and Setting – next will be you User – This will usually have your user name – Next you are a File titled My Documents and You are in a sub file titled My Pictures.  In side that file you will have the folders that contain your pictures.  One will say “New Folder” – this will be the new folder you just created.  When you rename it that name will change.  I will name this folder Vacations and then add some more new folders – Vacation 2010 – Vacation – 2011 – Vacation 2012.

After you rename your new folder – double click on it and add new Sub folders and Rename them into something that make sense to you.

New Folder Rename

Make a New Folder and re name it

What I have done so far is opened the My Photos Folder – Created a new folder titled Vacations and created three sub folders titled Vacation 2010 – Vacation 2011 and Vacation 2012.  Here is what it looks like

First at the top (1) is the name of the folder (Vacations)

Next in the Address window it says C:\Documents and Settings\Ronald Headley\My Documents\My Pictures\Vacations

Which means – you are on Drive C – in the Documents and Settings Folder – Under Your User name.  You are in My Documents in a folder named My Pictures which has a sub folder named Vacations.

There are three folders inside of the Vacations folder – Vacation 2010, Vacation 2011, Vacation 2012.

Folders and subfolders

Folders and Sub-folders

You are now set up with a place on your computer to put the new photos that are on your camera.  Lets say you just got back from you 2012 vacation.  Double click on the Vacation 2012 Folder – it will open and will be blank – you do not have anything there yet.

Look at the top (1) that is the folder name that you have open – look at the address – you are now inside the Vacation 2012 folder –

Look at the Address Window – C:\Documents and Settings\Ronald Headley\My Documents\My Pictures\Vacations\Vacation 2012

You are inside the Vacation 2012 folder, which is in the Vacations folder, which is under My Pictures.  There is nothing in the folder – this is where you will be putting the new pictures that are now on your camera that is connected to your computer.

vacation 2012

Vacation 2012 Sub folder

Tape Gun Use

Fold down the box tabs – first tape the center seam – pull out a couple of inches of tape from the tape gun and stick it to the side – pull the tape gun across the seam and over the side.  Lift up the handle to cut the tape.  Tape the two edges – pull tape across the edge leaving a couple inches on either side, cut the tape. Fold the ends down on the side, fold it over, fold the long part over and stick it to the side.  Like when you gift wrap something with wrapping paper.  The way my photos work is first click on a photo – it will open a window that has just the photo.  Then click on the photo in that window and it will enlarge.

Tape a box

fold in box tabs

tape gun

Get tape gun

stick tape to side

stick tape to side and pull over seam

pull tape over seam and over side

Pull tape across the seam and over the side

tape edges

Tape the edges

Taping edge2

half width of tape on bottom

fold in the ends and sides

fold in and stick the ends and sides

end edge tape

Edges and center seam taped

ah need an adapper sos ah can git on th’ Internet – From a customer this morning

Customer walked in this morning – this is as close as I can come to the conversaton:

Me: “Can I help you?”

Customer: “do yo’ sell adappers?”

Me: “Adaptors for what?”

Customer: “Adappers fo’ computers”

Me: “What kind of adaptor? There are many different kinds of computer adaptors.”

Customer: “Adappers fo’ th’ internet”

Me: “What kind of internet adapter?”

Customer: Blank look

Me: “How do you get to the internet?”

Customer: puzzled blank look

Me: “What kind of internet adapter, there are serveral kinds”

Customer: “ah need an adapper fo’ mah computer fo’ th’ internet”

Me: “How do you get on the internet? DSL? Cable? Dial UP? Air Card? Satellite?”

Customer: Puzzled blank look – “ah need an adapper fo’ mah computer t’go t’th’ internet”

Me: “Do you have an internet connection?”

Customer: “ah need an adapper so mah computer kin git th’ internet”

Me: “OK so you need to get on the internet? Can you get on the internet now?”

Customer: “No ah cain’t git on th’ internet mah neighbo’ won’t let me use his computer no mo’e”

Me: “So you used to use your neighbors computer to get on the internet?”

Customer: “Yep but he won’t let me use his computer nomo’e, he says he doesn’t be hankerin’ his kids seein’ whut ah was lookin’ at on th’ internet”

Me: “So you want to connect your computer to the internet?”

Customer: “Yup ah’s hankerin’ t’git th’ internet on over th’ air”

Me: “Over the air? Are you looking for an Air Card?”

Customer: Blank stare

Me: “Do you want to connect to the internet with cellular?”

Customer: “Mah brother said ah c’d git an adapper an’ git th’ internet on over th’ air”

Me: “Get the internet over the air? Where would it the internet be coming from?”

Customer: “Whuffo’ fum mah neighbo’, he won’t let me use his computer nomo’e so ah need an adapper fo’ mah computer sos ah can git his internet on mah computer”

Me: “Can you tell me how that works?”

Customer: “Sho’nuff, ah need an adapper sos ah can git th’ Internet on over th’ air fum mah neighbo’. Like mah brother acrost th’ street does”

Me: “Your brother gets his internet over the air from the neighbor across the street? Is this the same neighbor who won’t let you use his computer any more? How does your brother do this?

Customer: “Yep mah brother jest takes his lappop out t’th’ po’ch an’ he gits th’ internet on over th’ air fum mah neighbo’. On account o’ he won’t let me use his computer no mo’e ah need an adapper sos ah can git th’ internet on mah computer”

Me: “OK your brother has a laptop and he can get your neighbors internet over the air from his porch? Does you neighbor know your brother is getting in to the internet from his wireless?

Cusomer: “Thet’s right. Mah brother gits his internet on over th’ air on his lappop fum mah neighbo’. An’ no mah neighbo’ doesn’t know, mah neighbo’ doesn’t like mah brother at all, ah reckon.”

Me: So what you want is a wireless adaptor? Do you have a laptop or a desktop?

Customer: “Thet is whut ah said in th’ fust place, ah need an adapper sos ah can git th’ internet on over th’ air on mah computer. Mah computer aint no lappop it is a box unner th’ table wif a screen on th’ table.”

Me: “You need to have your own internet service, maybe you should call the phone company and see if you can get DSL – if you can they will give you an adapter to connect you computer to the internet.”

Customer: “ah doesn’t got no phone, ah doesn’t need no phone, th’ phone costs too much. ah jest use mah brothers phone when ah need t’call some one. ah jest need an adapper sos ah can git th’ internet on mah computer.”

Me: “OK now I think I know what you need, I do not have any, you need to call the computer repair people that work out of here maybe they can help you. {I gave him the computer repair peoples phone number knowing full well that they will not connect a WiFi card so someone can steal WiFi}


Back to working on the Geezer n Geek Small business guides site

While I am still doing some testing and experimenting with the SANDBOX just to see how things work with iThemes Builder – I am now starting to put together the actual SMALL BUSINESS GUIDE site. The first page has no navigation so I added a form which will take you inside the site.

iThemes Builder – Home Page

The first thing I want is a home or welcome page – it has an image – a couple of widgets on the sides of the image. A place for content – So that is what I built with the Layout editor. This page will have no navigation – just an opt in box – at least for now. This is a SQUEEZE PAGE